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M&H hammers #2764422
09/09/18 09:53 PM
09/09/18 09:53 PM
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 243
Bellevue, WA
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benjamink Offline OP
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I purchased a new M&H BB a few years ago - the piano was built in 2013. Still very happy with the piano. I'm considering replacing the hammers in the next few years - voicings have helped delay the need for this, but the hammers are getting grooved and worn from daily playing which has ultimately resulted in a brighter sound than I want.

As far as I know, the piano currently has Renner Blues and I think I'd like to try a different hammer going forward - preferably something which is a bit more mellow. Since auditioning different hammers in my current instrument isn't really possible, I was curious what suggestions people had. My technician is suggesting New York Steinway hammers. Anyone heard NY S&S hammers in a M&H? Any other suggestions?

Thanks!

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Re: M&H hammers [Re: benjamink] #2764423
09/09/18 10:00 PM
09/09/18 10:00 PM
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 4,468
Southwestern Ontario
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prout Offline
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I own a BB #93110 (2009) bought in 2012. Same Renner Blues. Much too hard for home use. I just replaced them in January with Ronsen Weikert Natural felt. They are closer to the 1920s style of hammers used on M&H. Softer, clearer. They required no voicing after installation, though they do brighten with use and may need single deep needling along the cupline. Some people like to dope the upper half octave or so. This might be OK.

Re: M&H hammers [Re: benjamink] #2764428
09/09/18 10:45 PM
09/09/18 10:45 PM
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Posts: 246
CT
wolfgangmeister Offline
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Benjamin,

In general, I second prout's recommendation on the use of the Ronsen Weickert Natural felt hammers.... they are the finest hammers on the market today... especially for instruments that have that lush American sound. I played a 2010-era M&H CC-94 Concert Grand modified with these same Ronsen Weickert Natural felt in a factory concert in late 2016, and it turned that piano into one of the most lyrical concert instruments I had ever played! With the proper voicing and tone regulation these outstanding hammers, combined with the WNG action both allowed for good power, and a beautiful soft and singing tone.

However, this may not be your most cost-effective option. I'm not sure when, but I'm pretty sure the factory moved on from the Renner Blues they used back in the 2000-2010 era to using Abel Selects by 2013. Unlike with my Yamaha C3, where no amount of voicing could bring out a lyrical tone from the extremely hard OEM hammers of the 1980's... and where I had no option but to replace them with WNG CF shanks and Abel Naturals (also a very nice hammer that is now used on many of the new M&H's and are also easier to voice)... with a knowledgable RPT, Abel Selects can be voiced to be much more mellow and can sing quite nicely.... without the expense of changing out the hammers and potentially the CF shafts (which increases material cost, but brings down technician labor cost).

You need to find out if your piano has the Renner Blues or the Abel Selects. With the former, I agree with prout... the Ronsen hammers are similar to the NY Steinway hammers... but even more so. With the latter, I would say that your Abel Select hammers are too new, and you really should work with someone that is able to properly voice them to suit your environs. When this was done on my 2013 M&H BB, I did not see a return to the original bright sound they had, and similar to you, I do a fair amount of daily practice as well.


Jason Solomonides
Mason & Hamlin 7' BB 93623
Yamaha 6'1" C3 (w/WNG) D3010008
My Piano Recordings:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7aJcfJZZvg&list=PLkP65I5BsNirTcv-nAHm4BXXsCbB_EbAJ
Mason & Hamlin Artist
Re: M&H hammers [Re: benjamink] #2764432
09/09/18 11:35 PM
09/09/18 11:35 PM
Joined: Sep 2018
Posts: 441
Chernobieff Piano Online content
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The Ronsens are my first choice. But, it's a mistake to think they don't require any voicing. String levelling, Mating hammers to strings, key pounding, some lacquer and some needling to cultivate an even sweet singing tone. But deliver they do!!
I recently restored a BB and my client wanted Able special press hammers. Along with my Adirondack 70% low rib profile soundboard, i never heard a better piano.
And that taught me a lesson. I don't think what choice of hammer is the right question, because it's the technician and what they can do with the hammers that they are use to using that can make a difference.
-chris


Maker of Fine Piano Soundboards
Chernobieff Piano Restorations
Lenoir City, Tennessee
www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
Re: M&H hammers [Re: Chernobieff Piano] #2764473
09/10/18 08:57 AM
09/10/18 08:57 AM
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 4,468
Southwestern Ontario
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prout Offline
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Southwestern Ontario
Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
The Ronsens are my first choice. But, it's a mistake to think they don't require any voicing. String levelling, Mating hammers to strings, key pounding, some lacquer and some needling to cultivate an even sweet singing tone. But deliver they do!!
I recently restored a BB and my client wanted Able special press hammers. Along with my Adirondack 70% low rib profile soundboard, i never heard a better piano.
And that taught me a lesson. I don't think what choice of hammer is the right question, because it's the technician and what they can do with the hammers that they are use to using that can make a difference.
-chris
String levelling, hammer mating are to be assumed done by a competant technician. Key pounding, IMO, in the form of 6 months of heavy practice in the home environment, is necessary before any voicing on the Ronsons. In my case, they have brightened and stabilized across the compass, including the top octave. They are now at the point that needling will open up the tone even further, and the technician has a known point from which to start a voicing protocol.

Just my opinion of course.

Re: M&H hammers [Re: benjamink] #2764489
09/10/18 10:05 AM
09/10/18 10:05 AM
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 243
Bellevue, WA
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benjamink Offline OP
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Thanks all for the suggestions!

Re: M&H hammers [Re: prout] #2764513
09/10/18 12:35 PM
09/10/18 12:35 PM
Joined: Sep 2018
Posts: 441
Chernobieff Piano Online content
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As a professional, I always thought it an odd practice to depend on the customer to do the key pounding for 6 months to develop the tone. Another way of saying it is that the hammers were not voiced , or even mated to the strings. So I ask, why put the customer through that?
So i came up with this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNzgwxCoiG0

I can do in one hour, what you would wait 6 months for. And it only cost me $20 to make
Regards,
-chris


Maker of Fine Piano Soundboards
Chernobieff Piano Restorations
Lenoir City, Tennessee
www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
Re: M&H hammers [Re: Chernobieff Piano] #2764522
09/10/18 01:06 PM
09/10/18 01:06 PM
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 4,468
Southwestern Ontario
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prout Offline
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Joined: Nov 2013
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Southwestern Ontario
Neat piece of equipment, and very useful, I assume. I guess I did not make my point clear. As a professional pianist, I wanted to hear the hammers out-of-the-box, then hear them develop over time. It has been a wonderful and enlightening experience that I have shared with my tech. I have loved every moment of playing these wonderul hammers on this superb instrument. The truth of the matter is that I preferred the sound of the hammers out-of-the-box and now I want to get back to that sound. If you pound the hammers in the shop, how does the customer know what potential he/she had with the hammers?

I know there are many, perhaps most, customers who do not want to experience this, and expect to get maximum benefit from their investment immediately. Kudos to you for satisfying that desire.

p.s. I read your key-pounding posts in PTG-Pianotech and saw the deep groves in the Ronsens that I saw after about 4 months of 20 minutes per day of full compass chromatic scales and such, then on to 4 hours of practice. Makes me wonder about their longevity. BTW, Do you use Dale Erwin’s and Ray Negron’s voicing protocol, or do you have your own that you prefer?

Cheers

Re: M&H hammers [Re: benjamink] #2764535
09/10/18 02:20 PM
09/10/18 02:20 PM
Joined: Sep 2018
Posts: 441
Chernobieff Piano Online content
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Chernobieff Piano  Online Content
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Posts: 441
Hey small world! And Thanks.
About that picture of the grooves.
http://i1268.photobucket.com/albums/jj573/chernobieffpiano/grooves%20021_zps8dhf6iju.jpg

Those were the very first set I pounded with the machine, and i still didn't know what it could do in what amount of time. I believe in the picture that was after 4 hours (and it looked worse in the photo than it actually was). After the learning curve, I have narrowed it down to 1 hour with the machine. Big change in tone occurs. Saves me a ton of time, well worth the time to make it.
-chris


Maker of Fine Piano Soundboards
Chernobieff Piano Restorations
Lenoir City, Tennessee
www.chernobieffpiano.com
grandpianoman@protonmail.com
Re: M&H hammers [Re: benjamink] #2764539
09/10/18 02:34 PM
09/10/18 02:34 PM
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 4,468
Southwestern Ontario
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prout Offline
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Southwestern Ontario
I didn’t mind the grooves. They give me a big change in tone when using the una corda to move off them. One think I’ve noticed about shanks and consistancy of strike position. I replaced the wood shanks (I believe that my July 1999 BB is one of the very last with wood actions) with composite. The reduction in vibrational torsion and wobbling is truly amazing. So much less effort to produce a consistant sound. The old shanks would vibrate and cause unpredictable hammer strike velocities and positions when playing rapid repetitions, causing weird sounds and tone on some tenor and bass notes. That is all gone now. One more plus, IMO, for the move to composite actions.

Re: M&H hammers [Re: prout] #2764547
09/10/18 03:12 PM
09/10/18 03:12 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,280
Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
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Carey  Offline
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Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted by prout
I replaced the wood shanks (I believe that my July 1999 BB is one of the very last with wood actions) with composite.
Actually the composite actions didn't become standard on M&H pianos until 2010. My October 2003 BB has a wood action. I understand that improvements continued to be made to the wood actions until they were replaced by composites.


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo
Re: M&H hammers [Re: Carey] #2764551
09/10/18 03:26 PM
09/10/18 03:26 PM
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 4,468
Southwestern Ontario
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prout Offline
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Joined: Nov 2013
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Southwestern Ontario
Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by prout
I replaced the wood shanks (I believe that my July 1999 BB is one of the very last with wood actions) with composite.
Actually the composite actions didn't become standard on M&H pianos until 2010. My October 2003 BB has a wood action. I understand that improvements continued to be made to the wood actions until they were replaced by composites.
Hi Carey. You are correct. I made a typo. I meant to say that my July 2009 BB is one of last with wood. It is serial # 93110 and the email I got from M&H confirmed that they shifted fully to composite by December of that year.

Re: M&H hammers [Re: prout] #2764584
09/10/18 06:07 PM
09/10/18 06:07 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,280
Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
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Carey  Offline
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Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,280
Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted by prout
Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by prout
I replaced the wood shanks (I believe that my July 1999 BB is one of the very last with wood actions) with composite.
Actually the composite actions didn't become standard on M&H pianos until 2010. My October 2003 BB has a wood action. I understand that improvements continued to be made to the wood actions until they were replaced by composites.
Hi Carey. You are correct. I made a typo. I meant to say that my July 2009 BB is one of last with wood. It is serial # 93110 and the email I got from M&H confirmed that they shifted fully to composite by December of that year.
Those pesky typos. ha I should have remembered that your BB was a 2009. Glad the composite is working well for you !!


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo
Re: M&H hammers [Re: Carey] #2764587
09/10/18 06:14 PM
09/10/18 06:14 PM
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 4,468
Southwestern Ontario
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prout Offline
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I just replaced the shanks with the standard composite shanks. I left the whippens. Maybe next year I’ll do the whippens. The jack centers are fussy. I’ve replaced a number of pins over the past two years.

Last edited by prout; 09/10/18 06:14 PM.
Re: M&H hammers [Re: benjamink] #2764615
09/10/18 09:20 PM
09/10/18 09:20 PM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 109
Minneapolis, MN
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DDobs Offline
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I just had my M&H AA voiced. I initially thought my hammers were Renner Blue, because there is a blue ring around the inner hammer and the piano had a very bright sound. However, Wolfgangmeister said M&H moved to Abels some years ago. My tech said he thought they were Abel naturals likely modified per spec for M&H. He spent quite a bit of time working on the hammers and I like the results.


Mason & Hamlin AA
Learning Mozart Menuetto K355


Re: M&H hammers [Re: benjamink] #2764807
09/11/18 07:04 PM
09/11/18 07:04 PM
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 51
Burlington VT
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I've never seen blue inner felt on any of the many sets of Abel Natural felt hammers I've installed.


Head Piano Technician and Restorer at Boston University School of Music 1986-2019 . Now relocated to Burlington Vermont, check www.snowpianos.com 617 543 1030.
Re: M&H hammers [Re: DDobs] #2764808
09/11/18 07:14 PM
09/11/18 07:14 PM
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 4,468
Southwestern Ontario
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prout Offline
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Originally Posted by DDobs
I just had my M&H AA voiced. I initially thought my hammers were Renner Blue, because there is a blue ring around the inner hammer and the piano had a very bright sound. However, Wolfgangmeister said M&H moved to Abels some years ago. My tech said he thought they were Abel naturals likely modified per spec for M&H. He spent quite a bit of time working on the hammers and I like the results.

The problem is that they are likely Renners, which explains the amount of time he spent on them, and the likely fact that you will be asking him to voice them again fairly soon, especially if you play several hours a day. There is a long history here on PW and on the PTG website of piano techs complaining about the amount of time and effort it takes to get the really hard Renners to sound decent. They do sound decent when needled hundreds of times, but it doesn’t last, based on their comments and my own experience.

Re: M&H hammers [Re: martin snow] #2764825
09/11/18 08:56 PM
09/11/18 08:56 PM
Joined: Aug 2015
Posts: 246
CT
wolfgangmeister Offline
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Originally Posted by prout
Originally Posted by DDobs
I just had my M&H AA voiced. I initially thought my hammers were Renner Blue, because there is a blue ring around the inner hammer and the piano had a very bright sound. However, Wolfgangmeister said M&H moved to Abels some years ago. My tech said he thought they were Abel naturals likely modified per spec for M&H. He spent quite a bit of time working on the hammers and I like the results.

The problem is that they are likely Renners, which explains the amount of time he spent on them, and the likely fact that you will be asking him to voice them again fairly soon, especially if you play several hours a day. There is a long history here on PW and on the PTG website of piano techs complaining about the amount of time and effort it takes to get the really hard Renners to sound decent. They do sound decent when needled hundreds of times, but it doesn’t last, based on their comments and my own experience.

I'm sorry to dissent here, but no recent M&H piano manufactured since at least 2013 (or earlier) have used Renner Blues… I am 100% certain of this... as this was confirmed to me by M&H's former Chief Voicing Technician, and my current RPT Boaz Kirschenbaum. They are either Abel Naturals, very likely as DDobs recently purchased what we believe to be a 2017 M&H AA, or Abel Selects which were the standard utilized in all M&H's until very recently... this is certainly the case of my 2013 M&H BB, which was manufactured around the same time as benjamink's 2013 M&H BB. If they are Abel Selects, although these hammers are not as hard as the Renner Blues they still require significant amount of work and effort to mellow the tone... this was also required on my BB. The Abel Naturals definitely take less time to voice down. But unlike other's experiences with the very hard Renner Blues, the voicing and tone regulation have lasted on both of my instruments.

BTW, the Abel Naturals and Selects have a very definite difference in look as well:
https://www.facebook.com/ABEL.Hamme...688/1037237209663360/?type=3&theater

Originally Posted by martin snow
I've never seen blue inner felt on any of the many sets of Abel Natural felt hammers I've installed.

The inner felt of my Abel Selects ARE Navy Blue (see picture below), which is true for all recent M&H's.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

When Boaz, ordered new Abel Natural hammers and WNG CF shanks / composite knuckles for my 1980 Yamaha C3, we could have selected from virtually ANY inner felt color (please see Abel's website).
https://www.abel-pianoparts.de/
https://www.abel-pianoparts.de/index.php?index=1&lng=en&menuid=65&ordner=shop-40

I briefly considered matching the Navy Blue of my M&H, but decided that a Deep Red inner felt made more sense for the inner color scheme of the Yamaha... by the way the original inner felts of this piano were a combo Orange/Grey... this would never have been my first choice! (see pictures below)

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]


Jason Solomonides
Mason & Hamlin 7' BB 93623
Yamaha 6'1" C3 (w/WNG) D3010008
My Piano Recordings:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7aJcfJZZvg&list=PLkP65I5BsNirTcv-nAHm4BXXsCbB_EbAJ
Mason & Hamlin Artist
Re: M&H hammers [Re: benjamink] #2764827
09/11/18 09:12 PM
09/11/18 09:12 PM
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 611
Usa
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Grandman Offline
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Usa
Thank you, Wolfgangmeister, for clarifying this. In the picture you linked to the Abel Naturals, is the opposite hammer an Abel Select? As far as I can tell, the facebook comments don't specify.

Re: M&H hammers [Re: benjamink] #2764832
09/11/18 09:39 PM
09/11/18 09:39 PM
Joined: Aug 2015
Posts: 246
CT
wolfgangmeister Offline
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Your welcome Grandman. Yes the picture on the left is definitely of an Abel Natural Felt hammer, and I am assuming that the one on the right is an Abel Select Felt hammer (although it is not labeled). I believe it resembles my M&H BB's hammers (as well as the one shown in the profile picture of the WNG CF shank with Navy Blue underfelt hammer). Regardless, the Abel Natural Felt hammer looks more "layered" to me... both in these pictures and in person on my Yamaha C3.


Jason Solomonides
Mason & Hamlin 7' BB 93623
Yamaha 6'1" C3 (w/WNG) D3010008
My Piano Recordings:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7aJcfJZZvg&list=PLkP65I5BsNirTcv-nAHm4BXXsCbB_EbAJ
Mason & Hamlin Artist
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